Budget Offers Opportunity To Invest In Students

Fredericton, NB – Post-secondary students in New Brunswick are calling on government to commit to student success by adopting a number of key recommendations in the 2016-17 provincial budget.

Included among the recommendations are the reinvestment of funds from the tuition rebate program, the elimination of harmful income assessments for financial aid, an extension of Medicare to international students, and an increase in experiential learning opportunities.

“2015 was a tough year for post-secondary students in New Brunswick,” said Lindsay Handren, NBSA Executive Director. “Between the elimination of the tuition rebate, raising of the Timely Completion Benefit’s debt-cap, and a university operating grant freeze, students feel as though nothing has gone their way.“

“Now, students are asking government to show that they have not, in fact, been put on a back-burner.”

The four recommendations would see government invest in better financial and social supports for New Brunswick’s post-secondary students – supports that would help to reduce average debt loads, increase enrolment, and better ensure the development of a productive and skilled labour force.

They would also reduce the likelihood of outmigration from the province.

“Post-secondary students in New Brunswick face limited work opportunities, the highest average debt load in the country (for those with debt), and are often forced to choose between employment and financial aid due to a broken student loan system,“ said Annie Sherry, NBSA Board Chair.

“As a result, over 6,200 youth have left New Brunswick in the last five years alone.“

“Government has stated that it wants to create the province’s most job-ready generation. Students want to be that generation, but they will not get there unsupported. We strongly urge government to adopt these recommendations in the upcoming budget and commit to student success.”
Read our pre-budget submission in full here.

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Post-Secondary Students Outline Priorities for 2015-16

Fredericton, NB – Post-secondary students in New Brunswick are looking forward to presenting their ideas for a better post-secondary education system to government, university administrators, and faculty following the release of ‘Post-Secondary Education – Strategic Investments for a Better New Brunswick’.

Student leaders from four university campuses across the province will hold meetings in Fredericton next week as part of the New Brunswick Student Alliance’s annual Advocacy Week.

The recently released document will inform those meetings.

“The recommendations outlined in this document represent what New Brunswick’s post-secondary students believe to be strategic investments for their government,“ said Lindsay Handren, NBSA Executive Director.

“They offer a means of getting the province’s youth, its institutions, and ultimately its labour force back on track.”

The document touches on a number of topics including financial aid, international student support, experiential learning, and the public funding of New Brunswick’s post-secondary institutions. It offers eight recommendations to government.

Included among those recommendations are the reallocation of funds from the scrapped Tuition Rebate into needs-based grants and a reversal of the controversial decision to increase the debt-cap on the Timely Completion Benefit.

“Making strategic investments in the post-secondary education system now will be key to New Brunswick’s success in the long-term,” said Annie Sherry, NBSA Board Chair. “With over 60% of job openings in the next decade expected to require a post-secondary education, ensuring that students have access to a high-quality education and the right social supports has never been more important.”

“We all want a strong and productive provincial economy. To get there, there is no investment more strategic than an investment in our youth.”

Read our new advocacy document in full here.

Press Releases

Reinvestment of Tuition Rebate Funds Overdue

Fredericton, NB – Post-secondary students in New Brunswick are frustrated with government’s failure to reinvest funds from the New Brunswick Tuition Rebate (NBTR) back into student financial aid, six months after it was announced that the tax credit would be eliminated.

The NBTR, which provided a maximum of $20,000 to graduates who remained and worked in the province, was scrapped in the 2015-16 provincial budget.

At the time, the cut was estimated at $22.4 million.

“The New Brunswick Tuition Rebate was by no means the perfect program, and we understand the rationale for its elimination,” said Lindsay Handren, NBSA Executive Director. “However, to be standing here six months out with no reinvestment of those funds back into financial aid – or clear plan in place to do so – is extremely worrisome.”

“Post-secondary students in New Brunswick face an uphill battle in financing their education, and government inaction will only make it harder.”

New Brunswick students graduating with debt owe an average of $35,200, the highest across all ten provinces. That amount is expected to increase following recent decisions to eliminate the NBTR and to raise the debt cap on the Timely Completion Benefit.

High student debt levels have been linked to slow economic growth and outmigration.

“Once again, we are calling on government to invest in affordable and accessible education,” said Annie Sherry, NBSA Board Chair. “Post-secondary students in New Brunswick represent the future of this province, and reinvesting funds from the New Brunswick Tuition Rebate back into student financial aid represents an obvious step toward protecting that future.”

“We believe those funds would have the greatest impact in the form of up-front, need-based grants. We strongly urge government to invest strategically to ensure that students from all backgrounds are able to pursue a post-secondary degree.”

Press Releases

Student Debt Map a Reminder of Action Needed

Fredericton, NB – A student debt map compiled by Consolidated Credit Counseling Services (CCCS) has post-secondary students in New Brunswick calling on government to take action and address high levels of student debt.

The map, which incorporated data on both average student debt and tuition levels, ranked New Brunswick first among all ten Canadian provinces by degree of debt and second in terms of tuition fees. Students in the province graduating with debt owe an average of $35,200 – well above the national average of $22,300.

“These numbers are discouraging, but they should not be surprising,” said Lindsay Handren, NBSA Executive Director. “The data on student debt was first made available last year. Unfortunately, government has yet to take any concrete steps toward reducing New Brunswick students’ high debt levels.”

Recent government decisions to raise the debt-cap for the Timely Completion Benefit and eliminate the New Brunswick Tuition Rebate have placed added financial strain on students and recent graduates. With no new investment, debt levels can be expected to rise.

The higher a student’s debt, the more likely he or she is to leave the province at graduation.

“The importance of retaining post-secondary graduates cannot be overstated,“ said Katie Davey, NBSA Board Vice-Chair. “These individuals will be vital to New Brunswick’s economic and demographic recovery.”

“New Brunswick is failing to capture the full potential of its youth. To do that, government needs to invest in affordable education and ensure that post-secondary students are adequately supported both during and after their studies. We strongly encourage government to take action on this issue and slow the exodus of youth from our province.”

Press Releases